thinking theology

Liturgy for Palm Sunday

Suggestions for presentation are summarized in Holy Week Reflections found elsewhere in this blog.

Opening Hymn: “The King of Glory Comes” (© 1966, 1982, Willard F. Jabusch. Administered by OCP Publications.)

Reflection introducing the themeWho is the King of Glory?”


Two processions entered Jerusalem on a spring day in the year 30. It was the beginning of the week of Passover, the most sacred week of the Jewish year. In the centuries since, Christians have celebrated this day as Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. With its climax of Good Friday and Easter, it is the most sacred week of the Christian year.

One was a peasant procession, the other an imperial procession. From the east, Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives cheered by his followers. Jesus was from the peasant village of Nazareth, his message was about the kingdom of God, and his followers came from the peasant class….

On the opposite side of the city, from the west, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Idumea, Judea, and Samaria, entered Jerusalem at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers. Jesus’ procession proclaimed the kingdom of God; Pilate’s proclaimed the power of empire. The two processions embody the central conflict of the week that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.

(Excerpt from The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. Published by HarperOne, Reprint edition (January 30, 2007; page 2).

The bagpipers, in full regalia, enter and do two turns around the space playing enthusiastically.

Palm Sunday Reading

Music: All Glory Laud and Honour,  2 verses (Hymn 181, Common Praise, Hymnal of the Anglican Church of Canada)

(Juggler — or some other busker — and children process, handing out palms as they go.)

Music: All Glory Laud and Honour,  final 3 verses

Reflection, in summary style, on the themeWho is the King of Glory?”

(At this point, there is an opportunity to invite group discussion on the differences between the two parades.)

Prayers of the People

Prayer of Confession

All: Creator God, you are the source of mercy and peace. We call ourselves your people although we often misunderstand your will for us. You set before us teachers and prophets, martyrs and models, but we choose poorly. Forgive us our admiration of power over possibility, enforcement over encouragement. We call ourselves the followers of the way. Help us to remember that your way is a cross, your throne is an open heart, and your music is the lament of angels weeping at the suffering of the earth and its creatures. Forgive us, heal us, and help us to grow in courage and compassion. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Absolution: God forgives us as a loving parent has patience with a child. May we find healing and new vision as we walk the way of the cross this week. In the name of the Trinity of Love. Amen.

Offertory Hymn

Eucharistic Prayer

Presider: May God of the Exodus journey with us.

All: We welcome the Holy One in our midst.

Presider: Let us look to the horizon of God’s love.

All: We lift our hearts in hope.

Presider: Let us give thanks for the gift of Jesus.

All: We offer our lives in faith.

Presider: Holy Mystery, you touch all people with a sense of your abiding presence. You dwell within the human heart at peace; you teach compassion by sending messengers of justice and understanding. Joining in the song of the universe we proclaim your glory:

All: Sanctus

A time to feel the Divine presence 

Presider: Gracious God, for all people you offer human examples of love and peace. We received Jesus as our teacher and friend, the one who would show us how to open our souls to you. In his great compassion, he healed the sick and saw in each person dignity and potential. For us, he became Love incarnate in human form. For us, he became your promise of life everlasting and love beyond all exhaustion or limit.When Jesus knew that his time of trial approached, he gathered his friends and family together. Anointed as sacrifice and blessing by a woman disciple, Jesus reached out to those who loved him. He took bread, gave thanks to you, broke it and gave it  to his friends, saying, “Take and eat: this is my body which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.” After  supper, Jesus took the cup of wine, gave you thanks, and said “Drink this all of you,” as a sign of his life, given as the  covenant of love and forgiveness for everyone. He said, “Whenever you drink it, remember me.”

A time to remember Jesus

And now we gather at this table in response to his commandment, to share the bread and cup of Christ’s undying love, and to proclaim our faith.

(Presider: Breathe your Holy Spirit, the wisdom of the universe, upon these gifts that we bring to you: this bread, this cup, ourselves, our souls and bodies, that we may be signs of your love for all the world and ministers of your transforming purpose.

Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory is yours, Creator of all, and we bless your holy name for ever.) Book of Alternate Services

All: Amen. Amen.

Closing Hymn

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